Booty And The Beasts
If you got here looking for some sort of rap album, you might as well leave now.
If you got here looking for the Disney film from the 1990s, you might as well leave now, and sue whatever school taught you to spell.
If you got here because you love old-school gaming, the more gonzo the better… sit, stay, put your feet up! Have some Cheetos and Mountain Dew.
“Booty And The Beasts” is to, say, Arduin, what Arduin is to Dungeons & Dragons. It’s right at that edge where “gonzo” becomes “stupid”, where “Man, this is totally awesome!” becomes “Dude, that’s, like, totally lame.” (For a good example of a supplement that plunges off that edge and burrows four hundred feet straight down, check out “Field Guide To Encounters” by Judges Guild, a product with almost nothing to redeem it except more art by the great This Guy I Know, except that, in this case, This Guy I Know’s distinctive style was being aped by one Kevin Simbieda. Yes, that Kevin Simbieda. Field Guide To Encounters is like his Star Wars Christmas Special. But I digress.)
Anyway, this article, or possibly series of articles… yeah, this has got to be a series… is going to go through this classic volume, not quite page-by-page, but pretty close, and comment on the many wonders that dwell within. Read on to see the wonders!
Booty And The Beasts was published in 1979 by Fantasy Art Enterprises, also responsible for “The Necronomicon”, a collection of spells for use “with most fantasy role playing games”, and by “most fantasy role playing games”, they meant Dungeons and Dragons. Booty And The Beasts, likewise, is “Monsters And Treasures For Fantasy Role-Playing Games”, and, likewise, means “Dungeons and Dragons”. Rather oddly, all the monsters have a “Dexterity” stat, which wasn’t part of the standard monster listing in D&D, but was used in Arduin. Of course, there were no rules for using this stat, as it didn’t affect armor class or attack rolls or anything else, monsters didn’t have skills, it didn’t boost saving throws, and, unlike Intelligence, it couldn’t even be used as a guide for roleplaying monsters or deciding what tactics they’d use. I will assume that “monster dexterity” was used in someone’s house rules, so commonly it never occurred to the people writing these supplements that it wasn’t part of the official rules and people outside of what I mentally imagine as the “David Hargrave Community” wouldn’t know what to do with it. Or perhaps they figured, in the spirit of the era, “Hey, maybe someone will find this useful to know. Let’s include it. What the heck, right?”
The book is dedicated to “NASA, Truth, Justice, and Capitalism (The American Way)”, and is credited to Erol Otus, Mathias Genser, and Paul Reiche III. My copy was apparently once owned by Gary Epperly, whoever the frack that was. I’ve owned this since high school, so it was fairly new when I acquired it, and I can’t remember how. It wasn’t from “Gary”, I know that, because I know the names of my old gaming group pretty well. Ah well, another minor mystery.
The Beasts are divided into “Creatures Of The Land”, “Creatures Of Sea”, and “Creatures Of The Sky”, and then Demons, Parasites, and Robots.
You got a problem with robots?
Good. Moving on. I won’t describe each and every monster, but I’ll highlight the best.
Our first monster is Fungus Men, which look “like a cross between midgets and toadstools”. The illustration by Erol Otus is wonderful, showing a group of 5 of them, some gangly and tall, others squat and angry looking. They use stalagtite daggers and mushroom cap shields, and can shoot out a cloud of spores to hide their escape. Plase note these predate the official myconids of AD&D by several years.
It’s a 20 hit dice hill. If you fall asleep on one, it will swallow you, disable you, and kill you in ten rounds. There’s only a 1 in 6 chance anyone will notice you’ve been swallowed, too. This is a perfect example of the classic “gotcha!” monster. Basically, unless you actually go out of your way to check to see if you’re on a living hill, your character is dead. Games in the 1970s were full of stuff like this. This is a perfect example of what “challenge the player, not the character” meant in the real world as it was, not the idealized world people like to remember. The DM challenged the player to be an incredibly paranoid coward, convinced every single bit of the landscape was some sort of killer monster, which it probably was. Stalactites? Piercers. The floor? A trapper. The ceiling? A lurker above. That treasure chest? A mimic. Without any formal rules structure for detecting such things or resisting them — the book just says “(incapacitates) and (dissolves) in ten rounds” — the game tended to be a battle of nerves between players and DMs, with pixelbitching the order of the day. Could you detect the hill by poking it with a sword? Only if the DM wanted you to. After the first encounter with such things, expect the PCs to just torch any hill that plan to camp on, or do something like tie bells to themselves while they sleep so as to avoid the “soundless” swallowing, etc. Then the DM will invent carnivorous flesh-burrowing beetles that look just like bells, or something. I remember one player who, in a dungeon I ran, wouldn’t touch any single item except by first climbing into his portable hole and then using his ten foot pole to prod it gently. It could take 45 minutes before he had run through every test, check, and trick he’d learned over the years to counter the multitude of “Screw you!” monsters, items, and traps which populated the game back then. In light of this, the story of Eric and the Gazebo becomes a lot more comprehensible.
Enemies of the mushroom people. When they encounter mushroom people, they go into “+1+1 berserk fury”. I have no idea what that means. I’m not even sure if the “+1+1” is a typo and it’s supposed to be just one “+1” or not. I’ll guess it might mean “+1 to hit, +1 to damage”, but we’ll never know for sure…
This is the name of the creature EGG borrowed to create the displacer beast. This version is capable of using technological weapons in its tentacles, and every time it hits you, it drains a %age of the phosphorus from your body. A handy chart tells you the effects of phosphorus loss.
A giant spider, which wouldn’t be all the noteworthy, but this one lives in derelict spaceships (apparently, derelict spaceships were common enough in these games that they needed their own ecosystems), and spins a fracking monomolecular spider web that will slice a person into “french fry like segments”. No damage is given; the implication is that if you walk into it or through it (easy to do since it’s “nearly invisible”), you’re simply dead. Make sure to always swing your ten foot pole (or cheap hireling) in front of you when walking through derelict spaceships.
Malevolent Mana Muncher
This looks like a three-legged, three-tentacled, nuclear power cooling tower, and its sole purpose is to steal “loose” magic items, such as crowns or amulets, and destroy them. Fortunately, they don’t go after your tech items.
Not a type of Mexican food! It’s pronounced so as to rhyme with “Godzilla” and is a cross between a tortoise and a gorilla. They will steal beautiful women and return them for juju fruit. Look, people, I don’t write this stuff, I just report on it.
It has a 25% chance per attack (and attacks twice per round) of slicing off a random limb, including your head. Roll %ile dice to determine how far up the limb you were sliced.
A teaspoon of neutronium weighs as much as a mountain, but don’t worry, this beast is contained in a magnetic field. It hits for 20-200 points of damage (remember, at this time, Lolth had 66 hit points, total!), and each hit will shatter 1-10 bones. There’s also some fairly intricate rules about how it can suck you into itself and crush you utterly. Oh, anything coming into contact with it must save at its present level with no protection, resistance, or plusses, or be crushed and utterly destroyed. (It is not specified what saving throw you use; there was no “Save vs. Neutronium Golem” I know of. Death Magic, maybe?
And In Conclusion…
Well, that’s it for “Creatures Of The Land”, or, at least, that’s it for the ones I decided to comment on. Creatures Of The Sea… whenever.